Saturday, December 5, 2015

Blogmas Day 5: My Christmas Wish List

As odd as it may seem, I don't have much on my Christmas wish list. My husband and I decided earlier this week to buy each other a pass to Busch Gardens since we live about 20 minutes away. I was happy with this idea because my husband isn't the easiest person to buy for. 
I did mention a few things that I wanted to my mom and my cousin, but I'm a pretty easy girl to please when it comes to gift-giving and am basically happy with anything that involves jewelry, cookware, or gift cards!
So here are a few of the things on my wish list for this Christmas! 
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I rarely wear makeup -- but I think that's because my makeup is old and nothing I'm excited for anymore. I figured with a gift card, I can buy some new lip gloss and maybe a pretty eye shadow. 
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I do a ton of cooking, so I've been wanting one of these for a few years. These are nice because they can be used on top of stove as well as in the oven.  I've been warned they get VERY heavy, but I would still like one! 
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I love pearls -- they are so classic. Pair that with this cute bow and I'm thinking all the heart eyes over here. 
Those are just some of the things on my Christmas Wish List. But what's most important is that my family is together on Christmas, that everyone is happy and healthy, and that memories are made. 
What's on your Christmas Wish List?

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Blogmas Day 4: Toddler Friendly Christmas Tree

Yesterday I shared with all of you our Christmas tree.  While it's a beautiful thing, it's so not something we particularly encourage our little Elizabeth to play with. I came across a few ideas on Pinterest and when I saw the felt Christmas tree, I know I found a hit!
What I didn't know is that my mom was more than game for making it for me since I basically don't have a crafty bone in my body. Yes. I'm a non-crafty teacher! HA!
My parents were in Tampa last week for Thanksgiving and she brought down her supply of felt and asked me which colors I wanted the ornaments to be. She had the fantastic idea to trace cookie cutters to make the most adorable ornaments for Elizabeth's tree. Felt sticks to felt, so there's no need for velcro or anything!
One night, while my husband I were on a date, she got right to work and made the tree, traced and cut out the ornaments, and had it ready when we got home!  
We were going to hang it in her playroom at first but then I got the idea to hang it in the kitchen so that when I'm cooking or if we have company over, she would have something to do to keep herself out of trouble (i.e.-- playing with the actual Christmas tree that has hundreds of dollars worth of ornaments).
The felt Christmas tree was hung with command strips that at first worked well, but when our little gets frustrated, she is able to rip the Christmas tree right off the wall. This weekend my husband and I are going to have to figure out a better way to secure it to the wall, but so far she loves it!
Little Elizabeth just turned 15 months and she's actually a little young for it. It's hard for her to grasp that she has to press hard on the felt ornaments to get them to stick, but she does enjoy walking up to it and grabbing the ornaments. I know she'll love it even more next year, so I plan on adding some felt Christmas presents underneath it and my mom wants to get some string to make the "bulbs" look like Christmas lights. See, I told you -- she's crafty! 
I hope you make one of these for your toddler -- they will love it!
We have it hanging in our kitchen next to the pantry!

Look at that little in those jammies playing with the tree!

Note the REAL Christmas tree ornament in her hand... haha!

A little play time after school yesterday afternoon!
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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Blogmas Day 3: Christmas Tree Reveal

I utterly love our Christmas tree. The ornaments are a combination of ornaments passed down to me from my mom, ornaments that my mom and dad purchased for me as I grew up, and ornaments given to me by my husband.  They all tell a story and are very near and dear to my heart.
This year, since we have a toddler, we had to be very strategic with placing ornaments on the tree. Since my parents were in town recently, I enlisted the help of my mom since she's so good at hanging them perfectly. We decided to keep all the toddler-friendly ornaments on the bottom half of the tree in hopes it would keep our little Elizabeth from grabbing the fancy and breakable ones.
That idea worked like a charm didn't it!?!?! 

Here are some photos of our tree and some of my favorite ornaments! :)
Lots of ornaments that all tell a story!

We bought this after we moved into our house!

Flounder from The Little Mermaid.

For our sweet little Elizabeth.

A photo from our wedding.

I love our tree!


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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Blogmas Day 2: Christmas Song Favorites

Christmas music is one of the things I love most about the holiday season. Normally I have the no-Christmas music before Thanksgiving rule, but ever since I became a mommy, I see no shame in listening to it the second The Holly is back on Sirus XM radio. Christmas music makes me happy for many reasons – I love belting out the songs even though I can’t carry a tune and it is an immediate mood booster. In a bad mood? I swear, pop on a few Christmas tunes and you’ll soon have a smile on your face. 
With that being said, I wanted to share some of my favorite Christmas albums/songs with you. 
Favorite Albums:
Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas (1994)
This was probably one of my first Christmas CDs that I had for my little CD player when I was in 4th grade. I love Mariah Carey (who doesn’t with a voice like that). My favorites on the CD? All I Want for Christmas is You and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

N’SYNC – Home For Christmas (1998)
I love this CD because it brings back my inner teenager. I love a capella music, so their rendition of O Holy Night is beautiful. And naturally, I love Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays too.

Favorite Songs:
Josh Groban – Believe (The Polar Express)
Josh Groban has one of the most beautiful voices ever. I’ve been lucky enough to see him in concert and he is utterly amazing. The song “Believe” is one that I always sing along to while I’m driving the car, baking cookies, or dancing with my sweet little Elizabeth.

Johnny Mathis – It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
I know. It’s an oldie. But it’s probably my favorite Christmas song. I’ve even had it set as the ringtone on my phone. I have awesome memories decorating our Christmas tree as a child listening to this song playing on the stereo.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Canon
This song is set to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, which was the song I walked down the aisle to on the day of our wedding. I’ve always loved Canon in D Major, so this song and Christmas combined is just perfect. Definitely one of the songs I crank up while I’m driving in the car!

With there being so many Christmas songs out there, what are your favorites? As you can see, I’m totally into the old songs and classics!
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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blogmas Day 1: 10 Things I Love About Christmas

I'm a giant kid at heart. I love all holidays and Christmas is no exception to that. There's just so many special things that the holiday season of Christmas brings - family, making memories, holiday baking, and the list goes on and on. It's a pleasure to share my list with you all! 
10 Things I Love About Christmas 

 1. Holiday Baking
Growing up my family did a ton of baking around Christmas. I have such beautiful memories of spending time at my grandma's house making the dough, letting it chill, and then rolling it out. Flour was everywhere but it was something that we did together every year. Even now as an adult, I spend lots of nights and weekends doing baking - cutout cookies, peanut butter blossoms, chocolate chip -- oh this list goes on and on! 

2. Christmas Music
Now I'm not talking about the odd songs like "Dominic the Donkey" and "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas". I'm talking about the classics by Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, and Burl Ives. Sure, these songs were written before I was born, but they are the songs that my family and I listened to putting up the Christmas tree, driving around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights, and so much more. Don't get me wrong, I utterly love the 'NSync Christmas album, but there's just something extra special about "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Jingle Bell Rock" (The Bobby Helms version, not Alvin and the Chipmunks). 
3. Buying Gifts for Family and Friends
I honestly enjoy buying Christmas presents for my family and friends. Whether it's something little like a gift card to Starbucks or a beautiful shirt and sweater, I enjoy thinking of what the recipient would enjoy receiving on Christmas morning. Gifts don't have to break the bank (especially when your on a teacher budget), but it's really the thought that counts - it truly is better to give than to receive in my eyes. 
4. Hallmark Christmas Movies
Oh I'm just utterly obsessed. From mid-November until New Years Day, I'm practically glued to the couch watching these heartwarming stories. In fact, I DVR the majority of them and watch on the weekends when I have a little bit of spare time. What's amazing right now is that every Saturday and Sunday, a new movie premieres! I just love sitting on the couch with the tree lights on, snuggled with a blanket, watching the Hallmark channel! 
5. Christmas Decorations
We have a small house and growing up, I lived in a small house as well. But during the holidays, there's no stopping us with decorating -- the Christmas tree, Christmas lights, special scented candles, etc. Having Christmas decorations around the house makes it seem magical and it honestly brings such memories -- I may live 1200 miles away from my parents but my house has a ton of decorations for the holidays that we had out when I was a child! Each piece that is displayed in my house has a memory and tells a story. 
6. Christmas Ornaments
Prior to me moving to Florida, my mom started an ornament collection for me. She bought me ornaments every year and kept them in a safe box so that when I decorated my first Christmas tree in my first apartment in Florida, I had enough ornaments to fill the tree. What's special about these ornaments is that they bring back memories and remind me of the Christmases I had as a child. I have already started this tradition for our little one in hopes that by the time she has her very own Christmas tree in her first apartment, she has a beautiful tree just like I did. Even my husband and I exchange ornaments every year and I cherish these gifts more than any other gift I receive each year. 
7. Holiday Drinks at Starbucks
I know. I'm basic. I love Starbucks as much as everyone else. Peppermint Mocha and the Caramel Brulee Latte are two of my favorites. What do I love right that goes along with these tasty holiday beverages? The red cup! Whether it's last year's decorated cup or the simply stated red cup this year, it just brings a smile to my face and a happy feeling in my tummy! 
8. Wrapping Presents
I love wrapping presents. I think it's because growing up, my parents and I had a tradition of wrapping presents together in the living room, watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I don't just wrap the gifts with paper, I strategically plan what paper I'll be using for each person and make sure the packages include a tag with their names and ribbons that match the paper. Sure, I get paper cuts every now and again, but it's the special memories I have of these moments with my parents that put a smile on my face as I'm wrapping gifts for my family and friends. 
9. Classic Christmas Movies
Home Alone. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. A Christmas Story. All of my favorites. All are watched numerous times over the holiday season. I basically know all of the lines to Home Alone, but I feel it's absolutely necessary to watch every year. There are some great Christmas movies these days, but I feel nothing will ever come close to the "classics" of people my age. And I know, the "real" classics include "It's a Wonderful Life", "Miracle on 34th Street", and "A Christmas Carol". Those movies just aren't my thing and that's perfectly fine! 
10. Family Traditions and Making Memories
Okay, so maybe this is technically two but I'm rolling it into one. Growing up, we celebrated Christmas Eve at my aunt's house every year. We went to 4pm mass and then had Christmas Eve dinner. We munched on food all night, opened gifts, and waited for Santa to drive by in the local firetruck, passing out candy canes. Christmas morning, we ate breakfast around the coffee table, slowly opening presents and enjoying hot cocoa and cinnamon rolls. Christmas dinner was at my uncle's house and it was exactly the same menu every year and I still love it. My husband and I (and our little) live in Florida which is 1200 miles away from the rest of my family, but we try our hardest to fly home to spend Christmas with my parents. Although we did have to spend a few Christmas mornings here in Tampa, I made sure to follow the same Christmas morning tradition -- right down to watching the Disney parade. Making memories and keeping family traditions is so important to me because I feel I have such beautiful memories of the Christmas season. 
So what are some of the things you love about Christmas?
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